Over a span of 30 years of managing and taking care of customers, I have managed to learn a thing or two about customer service. It seems that at every turn; there is a new expert out there showing us the new formula to customer service success! I hate to break it you, but it’s still the same old formula and it’s not going to change ever! And that is: “Take care of your number one and your number two customers” . Yes! I will say it again, take care of your #1 and #2 customers. You see, we have a tendency to over analyze everything having metrics for this, metrics for that, when most of the time all that is needed is just a little common sense. The crazy thing is you can’t teach common sense. No matter how many years you spend in college or how big your degree, if you don’t have common sense you will never get it. In today social media environment disaster is just a mobile phone touch screen or send button away; however, if it hits the right social media platform it will go viral in an instant. The good thing is, it works both ways, great customer service can go viral too. Here are 3 important steps that any company can take to ensure that you offer your customers a good customer service experience even after dropping the ball.
Take care of your #1 customer – Your Employee.
The biggest mistake we as managers and top-level executives, tend to make is: failing to take care of our employees, yet, expect them to take care of our customers. We can’t personally take care of all our customers’ issues, in fact, by the time we find out about the problem, very often it’s already out of control; or worse yet, it has gone viral on social media. A simple solution to this conundrum is to take care of your employees, not by being their best buddy or drinking pal, but by EMPOWERING your employees to make sensible decisions about customer service. You do this by Coaching, Training and Developing your employees; fostering an environment of leaning; and most importantly, taking ownership of the situation. This will help your employees recognize a potential problem before they happen, and by holding them to a higher level of accountability and expectations they will have the confidence to Pre-act to any given situation instead of Re-Acting. In short, empower your employee to take care of the situation before it becomes a bigger problem.
Listen to your #2 customer – Your Customer.
In customer service the most difficult thing for us to do, is to listen to what the customer is trying to communicate. We have a tendency to want to explain and inform to the customer of the company’s point of view, policies, and procedures; not realizing that the customer can “Give a Flying Fart In Space” about the company’s point of view, or its policies and procedures. At this point, all the customer knows is that they have paid us for goods or services, or worse yet, allowing someone to use the customer’s credit card in a fraudulent manner and failing to meet their minimum expectations. This moment is the biggest opportunity we will have during the crucial communication stage with the customers to gather all the information we would need to either make this a great customer service experience for our customers or turn it into the biggest PR nightmare we can possibly imagine. In short, knowing when to SHUT UP and LISTEN! Not just hear, but LISTEN to what our customer is saying makes the single most important aspect of providing a great customer service experience.
Provide a solution for the customer.
This is the easiest part in providing great customer service, yet we always find a way to mess it up with unchanging ability. Often, we tell the customer NO for the simplest of things; an even exchange for a defective product they purchased less than a week ago, when most likely you could RTV (return to vendor) the defective product. This is really simple, take care of the customer, take the Item back, and give them a refund or exchange for the product. Most of the time, the customer is not looking for a refund, they are simply looking for some help or assistance with either a product or service that we provided.
In short, if we take care of our employees, listen to our customers, and provide a solution for our customers; we would have gone a long way in providing a Great Customer Service Experience for our Customers, and most likely never finding our self with the kind of PR nightmare that could result from today’s fast pace social media environment.